5 Unforgettable Olympic Moments
The Olympic Games celebrate excellence in sport, and the discipline, courage and sacrifice required to get there. We take a look at five moments from the last 20 years that transcend the track.
1. Cathy Freeman wins gold
When Cathy Freeman won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 she carried the weight of a nation on her shoulders. Her winning run in the 400m was more than a medal to Australia; it was a source of pride. Her victory lap with both Australian and Aboriginal flags symbolised the hope, felt by many Aussies at the time, for reconciliation and greater inclusion of Aborigines in Australian life.
2. Usain Bolt smashes the record
Usain Bolt reaffirmed his title as the fastest man in the world in 2008 with three gold medal wins. Obliterating his previous world record, the Jamaican completed the 100m sprint in an astonishing 9.69 seconds. Had he not been celebrating well before the finish line, he may have shaved off even more time. His euphoric displays became an enduring image of the Beijing Olympics.
3. Muhammad Ali lights the flame
The honour of lighting the Olympic flame at Atlanta in 1996 went to one of the greatest athletes the world has known: Muhammad Ali. Thirty-six years after winning gold, the heavyweight champion shook with the effects of Parkinson’s disease as he took the torch. Ali’s contribution to boxing is matched by his social activism, never afraid to speak his mind or defy authority. The world paid tribute.
4. The nations of Africa unite
Following years of sanctions, South Africa re-entered the sporting arena at Barcelona in 1992. The hopeful spirit that accompanied the end of Apartheid was illustrated in the victory lap for the women’s 10,000m: first-placed Derartu Tulu from Ethiopia and second-placed Elena Meyer from South Africa completed the lap hand in hand, each carrying their nation’s flag. The gesture was met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
5. Derek Redmond’s courageous finish
Derek Redmond was the fastest Brit over 400m and a strong contender for gold at the 1992 Olympics. But his dream came to an abrupt end half-way through the semi-final when he tore his hamstring and collapsed in pain. Despite paramedics rushing to his aid, Redmond got up, and in a heroic effort, continued on one foot, devastated, aching, but determined to finish. From the sidelines, his father emerged and they crossed the finish line together.